Hossein Valamanesh is best known for his often delicate and fragile installations and sculptures, but recently he has extended his practice, experimenting with video.
A lot of Valamanesh’s work explores notions of change, movement and the passing of time, and the moving image is a great tool to portray these ideas. His first large-scale new-media work, Char Soo, is showing at the Samstag Museum as part of this year’s Adelaide Film Festival. The idea for Char Soo has been brewing for some time and, thanks to the Adelaide Film Festival’s Art and the Moving Image Commission, Valamanesh has made the notion a reality. “The idea occurred to me many, many years ago when I was standing in the middle of a bazaar and I thought wouldn’t it be nice to be able to see both sides – to have the opportunity to have an open mind, to observe everything”. Char Soo (four sides) is a four-screened projection where the viewer is transported to the middle of a bazaar in Arak, Iran. Filmed simultaneously in all four directions Valamanesh has captured the everyday life of these people. “It is so beautiful to be able to see this interaction, a cross road. People coming and greeting each other; it is beautiful life.” Valamanesh particularly wanted to capture the everyday life of Iran and in doing so has created a work that is universal and could be anywhere. “I didn’t want to show, ‘This is beautiful Iran’, it’s not about that. It just so happens that I like it and I’m from there but it could be happening at the Adelaide Central Market.” Part of the motivation for creating the work was to capture the beauty going on inside the bazaar and to show audiences a different perception to what they might have of Iran. “Making art is about starting a conversation. I wanted to bring a place of life from somewhere people are fearful of and put it in the middle of a museum and say, ‘This is life’.” Valamanesh’s sculptural and installation works have a material quality and there is an element of this that comes through in his video work. This is particularly evident through the flashes of details he has captured, such as the ceiling of the dome. “After you have been an artist for a long time you realise, as much as it’s to do with the way you handle the media, it’s not about the media; it’s about an idea that then gets presented,” says Valamanesh. In Char Soo, Valamanesh portrays a sense of beauty in the ordinariness. “I wanted to share that image of the four directions of the bazaar, the life, without having to interpret it for people,” he explains. “That’s why I set my camera fixed. I didn’t want to shift the camera. I didn’t want to choose what people saw. I just wanted people to be there as I was there.” Hossein Valamanesh Char Soo Samstag Museum Friday, October 9 to Friday, December 4 adelaidefilmfestival.org unisa.edu.au/samstagmuseum Photograph by M Reza Jahanpanah, courtesy the artist and GAG Projects, Adelaide